|Brian Powers and family
Each morning, long before his young family is stirring, Brian Powers laces up his running shoes and heads out under the bright moonlight.
It’s Brian’s quiet time to think about his gifts, including his children, 7-year-old Abigail, 4-year-old Aubree, and 2-year-old Hunter. But, especially at this twilight hour, Brian’s thoughts often turn to baby Carson.
Seven years ago, when the couple was living in Orlando, Brian’s wife, Tara, gave birth to twins at just 24 weeks. A boy and a girl, each weighed less than a pound and a half. Abigail would eventually thrive, but after nine courageous weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), twin brother Carson would not be able to hold on.
In the years since then, Brian has turned an experience that was full of both joy and grief into something profoundly meaningful for others. It started with a small group of co-workers who enjoyed running, and wanted to give back. Brian’s mother is a member of the Largo/Seminole branch of the All Children’s Hospital Guild, so Brian knew of the amazing fund-raising work they do for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. It was a perfect match.
“I’m just a dad with a passion for running, and a passion for helping, and I just want to be able to hand over big checks to the hospital and say ‘You know where the need is.’”
Now in its fourth year, Running For All Children is an event (held the Saturday before Mother’s Day) that raises thousands of dollars, with all proceeds going to the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Foundation. The event features chip-timed, USA Track and Field-certified courses for serious runners, but this is also an event that celebrates beginners, families with young children, and participants with special needs. Everyone is welcome.
The Heck family wouldn’t miss this race. Katie Heck will be tag-teaming with husband John as they push their energetic 4-year-old twin boys, Logan and Lennon, in their double-stroller. She admits it’s becoming more of a workout as the twins get older.
“It’s over 80 pounds combined. And they’re big enough to complain when we’re not going fast enough!” Katie says with a laugh.
|Logan and Lennon Heck run with mom, Katie
Katie’s boys were born seven weeks early at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte. She’s grateful to Johns Hopkins All Children’s doctors who help to staff the NICU there, and for the care the twins have received since that time in St. Petersburg. The family is active in fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. They have a Facebook page, appropriately titled “Raising Heck.”
Katie’s favorite moment in the Running For All Children race comes, not at the finish line, but in the moments just before it starts, when thousands of runners look up to the hospital windows and wave to a sea of small faces who are counting on their support. The Hecks want their sons to understand what it means to be a part of something like this.
”I just can’t wait for them to be standing outside the hospital and to get that kind of experience, of being around so many people involved in doing good things,” Katie says.
Putting on an event like this one is no small feat. There are logistics to iron out, race packets to prepare, event staff to organize, sponsorships to put in order, streets to block off and volunteers to mobilize.
As an army of supporters prepare for what is hoped to be an unprecedented race day, founder Brian Powers is taking care not to miss his twilight runs. They keep him connected to the things that matter most.
“After our daughter became old enough to understand about her brother,” Brian explains, “she always used to ask where he was. I would tell her, ‘He’s in heaven, he’s up on the moon!’ Now when I run, many mornings I’ll see the moon, and that will be my tip of the cap to my boy.”
Run For All Children
10K, 7 a.m.
5K, 7:30 a.m.
1-mile, 8:45 a.m.
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
501 Sixth Ave S
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
The 10K and 5K races will be chip-timed. There also will be a 1-mile run, a Family/Group Fun Run and a Kid’s Dash for ages 10 and under. Registration is $35 for the 10K and 5K and $25 for the 1-miler.
Sign up now and check out the race routes